Tuesday, April 2, 2024

"Agile" is not sacred

Some people believe that "Agile" or the ideas propagated by Agile practitioners should not be criticized. They view such criticism as a lack of understanding of Agile or disrespect for Agilists. I disagree. Let's delve deeper into this matter and explore how criticism intersects with science, reasoning, and growth intersect to bring Agile principles to life.
No religious worshipping of Agile!

Agile is not a Religion

It's tempting to defend Agile against criticism. But this turns the pragamtic, empirical approach into religious zealotry - We shouldn't hold a Holy Writ or Prophets over observable truth and evidence: Agile is not dogmatic. It thrives on openness, interaction, and an objective dissemination of plausible ideas. Treating it as an unassailable dogma turns this dynamic way of doing the best thing possible into a cultic practice.

The Cult of Dogma

Trying to staunchly defend "Agile" against critique creates a paradox: Agile, by design, thrives on openness, interaction, and the pursuit of better solutions. Turning it into a dogma stifles progress and growth. Dogmastism —whether religious or ideological— resists questioning and dissent. Agile, however, would welcome both.

Agile is Dynamic

"Agile" isn’t etched in stone: it’s living, evolving. Its core values highlight the need for continuous reflection and adaptation. Agile practitioners must embrace critique as a catalyst for growth.

Science and Agile: Kindred Spirits

"Agile" was conceived out of frustration with heavyweight project management methodologies that led to more failure than successes. Its founders sought an alternative that valued interaction, collaboration, flexibility, and responsiveness. That's the opposite of religious dogmas: Agile doesn’t demand unwavering faith. Instead, it encourages empirical experimentation and adaptation.

A place for skepticism

Scientific progress hinges on skepticism, curiosity, and the willingness to challenge prevailing theories. Agile shares this spirit. When practitioners question assumptions, experiment, and learn, they embody the scientific mindset. Agile’s empirical approach encourages us to scrutinize practices, discard what doesn’t work, and refine what does. It’s a departure from dogma, where adherence trumps evidence.

Welcome Valid Critique

An idea or practice that can’t withstand criticism is inherently flawed. Rigorous examination sharpens our tools. When criticism arises, we need to either debunk the critique with evidence or adapt our approach to the criticism. Agile’s resilience lies in its ability to evolve based on valid feedback. It doesn't coincide with flat out rejecting uncomfortable ideas.

Lab conditions

Imagine Agile as a laboratory: a space where hypotheses are tested, results analyzed, and theories refined. Just as scientists revise their models based on feedback and empirical evidence so do Agile practitioners need to do. A laboratory mindset encourages us to embrace critique, learn from failures, and iterate toward excellence.

No Sacred Cows

As long as we stick to our assumptions irrespective of the evidence, we will struggle to produce best possible outcomes.

Letting go of ideas

Metaphorically speaking, Agilists need to wield a cleaver to butcher sacred cows — those unquestioned beliefs or practices that stand between us and excellence. This helps us evolve, learn from mistakes, and refine our approaches.

Being flexible

Agility relies on flexibility, adaptability, and learning. Rigidity stifles growth. By remaining open to change and questioning established norms, we create an environment where innovation thrives.

Scrutiny and Validity

Ideas need to be subject to constant scrutiny. Rigorous examination sharpens our understanding and ensures that only the most reliable concepts are propagated. Emotional reactions or thought stopping hinder progress.

The Crucible of Scrutiny

Agile thrives when subjected to rigorous scrutiny. Just as metals are refined in the crucible, Agile ideas are honed through examination. When we question assumptions, we refine our understanding and discard what doesn't hold up. Scrutiny isn't a threat; it's a catalyst for growth.

Emotional Resilience

Emotions have their place, but they're often a bad advisor when dealing with criticism. It's natural to respond to critique with an emotional reaction that clouds our judgment. Reason, logic and evidence are much more reliable guides when emotions flare.

Constructive Criticism

"Agile" benefits from constructive criticism. Rather than approaching dissent with negativity, we can understand it as a means to foster growth, refine our practices, and elevate our performance.

Avoid Buzzword Bingo

"Agile" arguments often deteriorate into buzzword bingo — where catchphrases replace substance. Avoid jargon and focus on substance: Show me the "better way" with clarity, backed by evidence. Buzzwords won't impress anyone looking for serious answers.

Be Positive

Criticism is not an attack that needs to be defended against. Instead of shutting down the question, let's open up a conversation. By challenging assumptions, we contribute to growth. But likewise: Simply lashing out at something stifles progress. This won't lead to improvement.

Be Reasonable

Ad hominem attacks and Gaslighting have no place in a collaborative environment. Instead, let's engage in thoughtful reasoning. When you disagree, present your case logically. "Agile" thrives upon the respect of differing viewpoints, perceiving uncomfortable questions as invitations to learn.


Agile isn't a fixed monument; it's a dynamic garden. Water it with constructive criticism, prune away dead branches, and watch it flourish. Let's cultivate growth, learning, and respectful discourse.

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